Mental health hit home when Joseph Stotts’ mother fell into a deep depression. The person he was closest to and loved the most inspired him to become a clinical social worker at Generations Mental Health Center.
Stotts has dealt with over 5,000 individuals struggling with mental health issues, but the most important success story to him was Judy Stotts’ recovery from her depression and psychosis.
“My mom is what I would call a supermom. She was a really strong person, and she taught me how to be strong. Growing up as a child, I always looked at my mom as being one of these people who was completely indestructible,” says Stotts. “She was at every ball game, practice, school function, helped me with homework, read to me at night; everything you could think of that a mom could or should do. On top of all of those things, she was the most loving person in the world.”
Stotts was raised by his mom and was an only child. When he was 20 years old, Judy fell into a deep depression after her mother, father and brother died within a short time period of one another. Her depression went untreated for so long, she began having anxiety and psychosis. She started to hear voices. Her illness all happened at once, while Stotts was in community college at Motlow, majoring in psychology.
“I was put in a serious predicament in my life by being in a situation where the person I loved and was closest to more than anyone was all of a sudden the weakest person. The roles were flipped on me at an early age to be the parent,” says Stotts.
Judy’s behavior was extremely erratic and bizarre. She had psychosis, heard voices, was paranoid and had to be hospitalized in Nashville several times. Stotts said one of the hardest things he’s ever had to do was to leave her in the hospital.
Judy suffered from 1999 to 2014 with these mental health issues. She took antipsychotic, anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications. She would have both good days and bad. Stotts was the sole caregiver of his mother. He continued to work towards his degrees during this trying time.
Stotts says, “After years of suffering, she found a way to beat what had been causing so many struggles in her life. She became the same person as before and was so positive.”
During the last five to six years of his mother’s life, Judy had a medication and environment change which changed her mental health for the better. She overcame years of mental health problems, and her son was able to be a part of her conquering her illness and coming out strong on the other side.
“My drive and everything I do comes from my experience with my mom. It’s what pushes me to continue to keep trying to find ways to get access to care for people and keep pushing,” he said.
Judy Stotts passed away in June 2017 at the age of 58.